Invective for an Imminent Investiture
Here is our gift to you, please take it, everyone needs a Prince,
and Wales should be grateful: never look a gift horse in the mouth
in spite of missing or yellowing teeth and various hints,
in the region of the back end of the nag, of trouble to come.
There are experts on hand with handbooks of courtly etiquette;
they are skilled in the manufacture of tradition, protocol,
they can sketch a crimson carpet unrolled over stone steps
for brocaded slippers to tread (slowly, magnificently).
They have studied form, know what The People love to see
in a gilded procession, trumpets blasted in a row
from a high turret (castles in such cases obligatory)
and everything that flags and clopping horses can do.
Roll out the barrel. Chips with everything. Party time!
A small girl speaks into a microphone: it was so emotional.
She is persuaded that the King and her grandad chime,
show the same wrinkles and baldy twinkles, smile
with the lovely ease of condescension at The Young
who are seen to look up from their mobiles and gawp,
briefly, before a Tweet comes in or an anthem is sung
whose words they fumble for, heads scratched in bafflement.
In a city street, tables are erected for iced cakes, and the TV,
like a holy icon, burbles all day long, watched or unwatched,
as the bunting in Butetown or Bangor flutters free
and crowds line the route waiting to touch the royal hand.
All it needs now is a senate of bards, druid-like, holding a lyre
(or is it a leek?) with their formal odes hymning the Prince,
their long faces gravid with obedience, the loyal leer,
hands folded in front, heads bowed, white garments rippling.
Here is a battlement, high and windswept, jackdaws in flight.
All it needs is a short leap through the bright air
down to the mortal rocks, the sea foaming white,
and freedom at last in a thousand smithereens.
[First published in Planet, Feb-April 2022]
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